Rise of the EA: Who is the Executive Assistant?
Ahead of our upcoming EA event, ‘The Rise Of The EA’ Career Moves has a guest post by Melba Duncan, explaining what the Executive Assistant role is, and how executives can best work with these business linchpins. The article was first featured in Executive Secretary magazine - published by Lucy Brazier, who will be speaking at the Rise Of The EA event.
The Executive Assistant is a strategic colleague
They are the person who you call in the middle of the night when you have an idea or a task that you want executed first thing in the morning. The person who greets you the next morning (having arrived at the crack of dawn) reassuring you that the task has been handled; that the most effective course of action (that works with your calendar and relieves you of multiple conversations on the same topic) was to arrange a video-conference so that you can communicate your idea to your global marketing team.
This is the person who enables you to meet the challenges of the global business landscape.
This is the person whose strategic decisions save your and others’ time. This individual’s unquestionable value is in their ability to perform as your daily, minute-by-minute problem-solver.
The Purpose Of The Role
Talented Executive Assistants represent a strong business function; they are among any company’s critical talent population. Why? They provide administrative stability, the discipline to do more things better, and the skills to manage a magnitude of systems with consistency, reliability and focus. An Executive’s success is dependent upon these talented individuals, whose purpose is to focus on goal accomplishment, to meet the needs of the Executives and the companies they support.
Executive Assistants’ strategic skill is to provide the basis for Executives to make the best-informed decisions possible. They conduct due diligence in order to assure that all relevant information is available to aid in the decision process, and with exactly the right level of detail. Preparation of such materials, and their thoroughness and balance, is the responsibility of experienced Executive Assistants.
The Professional Executive Assistant is entrusted to make the Executive’s vision a reality. The most valued Executive Assistant is the person who aligns his/her strategy with the Executive’s and the organization’s mission. Those who do this work well know that the key is in the orientation of the role. There must be personal chemistry between the Executive and the Assistant. Executive Assistants’ intellectual and technical capabilities are influences; yet, it is the “personality fit factor” that is the key to sustainable performance, both personally and organizationally. Each must like, respect and trust the other, and have the friendship-based capacity to apply humor to challenging situations. Mutual respect, accountability, trust and adaptability must be absolute.
Brandi Cheek – EA to Drew Houston, of Dropbox.com
Why Hire An Executive Assistant?
The demand on the time and energy of Senior Executives has been escalating rapidly in a period of globalization, economic disruption, financial distress and increasing competition from every source. Executives who know the value of, and can leverage, a great Executive Assistant can propel their company and their careers.
Those in the ranks of top management have always had a list of things they cannot get done without help from a real, live human being: someone who with tact, intelligence and diplomacy is a tenacious inquisitor to get the facts, and who knows virtually everything of consequence about the company for which he or she works.
Smart Executives realise that they need to replicate themselves, harness their worst tendencies and find someone to support them who has a fully committed sense of the business. This is the person who can take anxiety out of the Executive’s day, and support and manage the Executive’s business goals.
There are at least three critical dimensions for the Executive/Executive Assistant team to achieve an effective working relationship:
The Executive’s willingness to invest the time and effort to consider what aspects of his/her workload can be assumed or restructured into segments that can be managed by his/her Assistant.
The Executive Assistant’s willingness to stretch beyond his/her comfort zone in order to assume new and more complex responsibilities and who can consistently produce results.
Executive Assistants as managers are persistent, tough-minded, hardworking, intelligent and analytical. Most relevant, is the ability to understand the personal and business context of the Executive, within which he/she must manage the day-to-day responsibilities of the role, and who, by extensive experience, knows the difference between not letting things go unnoticed or unchecked. These distinctions cannot be overstated; they distinguish the conditions for the team’s success.
Executives have the responsibility of keeping their Assistants informed by setting agreed-upon expectations, goals and timelines for implementation. Without this understanding, unnecessary conflicts, misunderstandings and problems are inevitable. Spending time to clarify objectives, problems and pressures is the key to supporting your Assistant in making sound decisions and implementing flawless execution, because effective Executive Assistants do not allow an Executive’s vision to transcend their capabilities.
This is the genius of the assisting role.
This article first appeared in Executive Secretary Magazine, a global training publication and must-read for any office professional. You can get a 30% discount when you subscribe through us. Visit the website www.executivesecretary.com to find out more. To get your 30% discount email firstname.lastname@example.org and quote ‘Career Moves Group’.